Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple-Ginger Soup

Apple Butternut Soup

We finally received some much needed rain here in Northern California a few weeks back. For a minute there, I forgot it was winter with all of the beautiful, warm days we’ve experienced in December and January.

It was a Friday night and I had planned for my dear friend Morgan to come over and make dinner together. That morning over text we both had same idea for dinner: SOUP! What a perfect choice to pair with this rainy evening. She had a few ideas that we kicked around and then we both settled on making a comforting squash soup with granny smith apples paired with a pear & pomegranate salad.

Apple Butternut Squash Soup & Salad

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 granny smith apples, peeled & cored
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 granny smith apple, for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Quarter the butternut squash, coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 45 minutes – 1 hour. Remove the skin and let cool. (If your local store doesn’t have whole butternut squash available, check to see if they have cubed butternut squash.)

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Add the apples and 2 cups of broth into a blender or food processor (I used my Ninja and it worked great!) Puree until smooth and transfer it to a bowl. Set aside.  In a heavy stockpot, add olive oil, onions and garlic and saute over medium heat until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the onions from pot and place in a bowl. Transfer the apple / broth mixture to the stock pot and simmer. Add the cooled squash to the blender along with 1/2 cup of broth and puree until smooth. Add the squash puree to the apple / broth mixture. Add the half & half and stir continuously until completely mixed together. Add the fresh thyme and ginger. Season with salt & pepper, to taste.

Apples & Broth in Blender

Garnish soup with thin slices of apples & fresh thyme sprig. Enjoy with your favorite salad or crusty bread.

Serves 4 -6

Pear & Pom Salad

Pear, Pomegranate & Gorgonzola Salad

  • Arugula salad
  • 1 – 2 ripe pears, sliced
  • Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • Pomegranate seeds (click here to learn an easy way to deseed a pomegranate)
  • Walnuts, toasted
  • Citrus vinaigrette (recipe below)

Combine pears, cheese, pomegranates and toasted walnuts over a bed of arugula salad. To make this simple vinaigrette, combine juice from 1 orange, 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil (slowly added), salt & pepper.

Enjoy! ~Crystal

Carrots Two Ways | Orange-Ginger & Brandy-Glazed

Orange-Ginger Carrot Circles

Bright, colorful and delicious – this is an easy-to-make side dish that’s bursting with zest and spice.

Orange-Ginger Carrot Circles

  • 6 medium-large carrots, peeled, washed and sliced into circles
  • 1 medium orange, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, about 1/2 orange
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 3 teaspoons ginger
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • Garnish: orange zest and ginger

Orange-Ginger Recipe

Combine all ingredients plus 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer and stir occasionally for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Garnish with fresh orange zest and freshly grated ginger.

Brandy Glazed Baby Carrots

Spruce up a side of carrots with this delicious and easy to make brandy-glazed recipe. Slightly sweet and full of flavor! Don’t have brandy in your bar? Substitute with any brown spirit to add depth and richness to the dish.

Brandy-Glazed Baby Carrots

  • 1 pound baby carrots, peeled and washed
  • 1/4 cup Korbel Brandy
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • Garnish: chives (if you have ’em)

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a cast iron skillet or large saucepan over high heat. Add the carrots. If the pan is too small for all of the carrots, add them in two batches. Cook for a minute  to 90 seconds, just until the carrots are slightly brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining butter and brandy. Be careful and stand back, just in case. Once butter is melted, add the brown sugar and stir in the carrots. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper, cover and cook until carrots are done and glaze is thick – another 5 minutes or so.

Remove carrots from pan and serve immediately. Garnish with chopped chives.